Communication DIY debt solution
Summary: This article argues that good communication with creditors can be an important step in regaining control of your finances.
Informing creditors of problems
In nearly all statements from creditors, contact details are provided to enable someone struggling to make their debt repayment to get in touch. This is really important as creditors have no way of knowing that such problems exist and can only help once informed. Some won't offer any help until payments are actually missed, and then a new team will look at repayment options.
Something is better than nothing
Even when circumstances mean repaying the contractual payment is impossible, a token payment with an explanation is always better than no contact at all. CAB and other organisations will often advise people to simply make £1/mth payments to creditors. This at least alerts creditors to the fact that the debt is still open, and that the debtor is doing something.
Overcoming creditor unhelpfulness
It may be that we contacted a creditor fully expecting them to offer immediate help, only to find that their response was blunt and unhelpful. It's best not to be put off. No one can pay what they don't have, and priority bills (rent or mortgage, council tax and utility bills, food) are more important. Making a token payment with a covering letter can still be made, even if not encouraged by the creditor.
Keeping a record
It's important to keep a full record of all contact or attempted contact with creditors. Copies of letters or emails should be kept. A record made of phone conversations kept - date/time, person speaking to and summary of discussion would be ideal. This is to safeguard you if action to recover the debt was taken by the creditor if they were to go to court and claim you had not made any effort to communicate, you would have evidence to the contrary.
Open all letters and respond
There is a real temptation to leave creditor letters unopened and file them in the bin. Sometimes debtors seem surprised that legal action has followed without their knowledge. At times a sense of helplessness leads us to non-communication. However, as a general rule, it's better to know what creditors are saying and doing and respond accordingly.